Like any good best friend, dogs sometimes push us to be stronger people. For one boy, canine support opened up his life to a whole new world. According to the Daily Mail U.K., a seven-year-old child with a fear of leaving the house is starting to take trips outside, thanks to his three-legged dog, Haatchi.
Owen Howkins became fearful of social situations at a young age when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, which made him look different from other kids his age. His anxiety became so severe that the boy started to loathe leaving his English home.
Those with Schwartz-Jampel syndrome experience constantly tense muscles. Will Howkins, Owen’s father, thought that finding his son an understanding companion might help relieve Owen’s fears. At a local animal rescue center, Will found the perfect candidate in an Anatolian Shepherd named Haatchi.
Haatchi arrived at the rescue center after being tied to some railroad tacks and getting hit by a train. The incident cost the dog his tail and a back leg. Staff at the shelter feared the damaged pup may never find a home due to his disability. Now both Owen and Haatchi have found the perfect friend to help them overcome their challenges.
Owen’s family says the the doting dog helps the boy cope with his frequent hospital visits and understand that physical differences don’t change how people feel about you.
“Owen used to be scared of strangers but he now wants to talk to everyone about Haatchi and wants to go out all the time to dog shows,” said Colleen Howkins, Owen’s step-mom, to the Daily Mail U.K. “The difference we see in him can’t be put into words.”
Haatchi will soon start bringing his healing company to others. The dog recently completed therapy training, so he can visit solider amputees and terminally ill children in hospitals.
Haatchi’s wonderful work has earned him an award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a fact Owen is eager to chat about with his new friends.
Photo Credits: All shots via Haatchi’s Facebook fan page.
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